25/07/2001
Press Release
GA/9894



Resumed Fifty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

109th Meeting (AM)


ASSEMBLY AUTHORIZES SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ESTABLISH MONITORS FOR FIJI ELECTIONS


As part of the effort to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies, the General Assembly this morning authorized the Secretary-General to establish the United Nations Electoral Observer Mission to monitor general elections and the immediate post-election environment in Fiji.  


The Assembly took that action by adopting, without a vote, a draft resolution on the matter.  The assistance had been requested by the Caretaker Government of Fiji in a letter to the President of the General Assembly.  The elections are scheduled for 25 August-1 September this year. 


Introducing the text, the representative of Fiji described the events of May 2000, when a group of armed rebels had stormed into his country’s Parliament while it was in session and held the elected Government hostage for 56 days.  Following the appointment of an interim civilian Government, Fiji now took the initiative to allow the United Nations to witness its return to parliamentary democracy.  He was confident that the presence of the United Nations Observers would send a very positive signal for the acceptance of the election results and the future stability of the nation.


In support of the upcoming elections in Fiji, Japan’s representative informed the Assembly that his Government would provide grant assistance of $370,000 and that 10 Japanese nationals would participate in the Mission.  Also speaking in support of the draft were the representatives of Nauru (on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group) and Belgium (on behalf of the European Union).


By adopting, also without a vote, a second draft resolution this morning, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to continue to provide the preparatory process and the International Conference on Financing for Development (Mexico, March 2002) with all needed support, including a secretariat commensurate with the level of the event and adequate staff and other resources.  The draft also provides for the launching of a global public-awareness campaign with support from public/private partnerships. 


Speaking after the action, the representative of Mexico –- the host country -- said that the Summit would provide the international community with adequate opportunities to respond to the challenges of global economics through the convergence of all major stakeholders.  The success of the Conference would determine to a large extent compliance with commitments made at the Millennium Summit and Rio.


Also this morning, the Assembly endorsed the recommendation of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) to grant four countries late in the payment of their dues -- Burundi, Comoros, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova -- an exemption under Article 19 of the Charter, allowing them to vote in the General Assembly until 30 June 2002.


[Article 19 of the United Nations Charter establishes that, should a Member State fall behind in the payment of its dues by an amount equal to its assessments for two most recent years, it will lose its right to vote in the General Assembly, unless the Assembly decides that non-payment is a consequence of factors beyond a State's control.]


By adopting without a vote the draft decision on the matter, the Assembly endorsed the Fifth Committee’s determination that those countries' failure to pay the amount necessary under Article 19 was due to conditions beyond their control.


The Assembly will meet again at a date to be announced.


Background


This morning, the General Assembly was expected to resume its consideration of draft resolution A/55/L.90 on support for the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies; consider programme budget implications of draft resolution A/55/L.82 on preparations for the International Conference on Financing for Development; and take up four requests for exemptions from sanctions under Article 19 of the Charter.


Support for Efforts to Promote, Consolidate New Democracies


The Assembly had before it a 42-Power text on the United Nations Electoral Observation Mission for the general elections in Fiji in August 2001 (document A/55/L.90).


By the terms of that text, the Assembly would decide to authorize the Secretary-General to establish the United Nations Electoral Observer Mission to monitor the general elections in Fiji and the immediate post-election environment.  It would ask him to arrange, as soon as possible, for the deployment of the Mission so that it may commence its monitoring functions.  By other terms, the Assembly would call upon the authorities directly concerned to extend their fullest cooperation to the Mission in order to facilitate the accomplishment of its task.


The text is co-sponsored by Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Spain, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States and Vanuatu.


Financing for Development


Also before the Assembly was draft resolution A/55/L.82, by whose terms the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to continue to provide the preparatory process and the International Conference on Financing for Development with all needed support, including a secretariat commensurate with the level of the event and adequate staff and other resources.  The draft also provides for the launching of a global public-awareness campaign with support from public/private partnerships. 


The General Assembly, by its resolution 54/196, decided to convene in 2001 a high-level intergovernmental event at the ministerial level on financing for development.  Subsequently, in its resolution 55/245, the Assembly decided that the event would take the form of an international conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, at the highest political level, including at the summit level.  It also accepted the offer of Mexico to host the event in March 2002. 


In preparation for the event, five regional commissions, in cooperation with other United Nations bodies, regional development banks and financial institutions, have held a number of high-level regional meetings.  They are also expected to hold consultative meetings in their respective regions from within existing resources in the biennium 2000-2001.  The regional commissions would jointly hold an interregional meeting of eminent experts in January 2002, and UNCTAD would organize a seminar, also in January 2002, on market access.


By its report on the programme budget implications of the draft (document A/55/1019), the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) informs the General Assembly that, “should it adopt draft resolution A/55/L.82, the additional requirements of $295,100 related to activities to be carried out in 2002, in the context of the last months of the preparatory process of the International Conference on Financing for Development, would be subject to the procedures for use and operation of the contingency fund for the biennium 2002-2003, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 41/213 of 19 December 1986 and

42/211 of 21 December 1987, and in the context of the consideration of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003.”


Regarding requests for exemption under Article 19 of the Charter of the United Nations from Burundi, Comoros, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, the Assembly has before it a report of its Fifth Committee (document A/55/521/Add.4).


[Article 19 of the United Nations Charter establishes that, should a Member State fall behind in the payment of its dues by an amount equal to its assessments for two most recent years, it will lose its right to vote in the General Assembly, unless the Assembly decides that non-payment is a consequence of factors beyond a State's control.]


Following its consideration of the matter on 20 July, the Committee determined that those countries' failure to pay the amount necessary under Article 19 was due to conditions beyond their control and recommended that they should be permitted to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2002.


Introduction of Draft


AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) presented the draft resolution entitled “United Nations Electoral Observation for the general elections in Fiji in August 2001” (document A/55/L.90).  He informed the Assembly that the following countries had also become co-sponsors of the text:  Barbados, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Denmark, Guyana, Ireland, Malta, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, United Kingdom and Nepal.


He said that on 19 May 2000, a group of armed rebels had stormed into his country’s Parliament while it was in session and held the elected Government hostage for 56 days.  Fiji went through a trying and turbulent period at that time, experiencing lawlessness, loss of lives, severe economic downturn, purported abrogation of its Constitution, imposition of martial law, dismissal of the elected Government, change of the Presidency, and appointment of an interim civilian Government.


That Government, he continued, made a commitment at the outset to restore a democratically elected administration within a two-year time frame.  Elections were now scheduled for 25 August, which was well within the two-year time frame. Determined to regain the standards of democracy and good governance that his country was accustomed to, Fiji now took the initiative to allow the United Nations to witness her return to parliamentary democracy.  His country was very confident that the presence of the United Nations Observers would send a positive signal for the acceptance of the results and the future stability of the nation.

Statements


Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, VINCI N. CLODUMAR (Nauru) said that, deeply concerned over the removal of a democratically elected Government in May 2000, the countries of the Forum had expressed their feelings during their last meeting in Tarawa in October 2000.  The leaders of the Forum, in their communique, had recognized the need to address the fundamental causes of political instability in the region.


As co-sponsors of the draft resolution, the countries of the Forum welcomed the action of the Caretaker administration in Fiji in opening the upcoming general election -- scheduled for 25 August -- to international scrutiny.  That was a testament to good governance through the application of parliamentary democracy.  He also saw the call for United Nations Observers to monitor the elections as Fiji’s way of showing the international community its commitment to return to constitutional democracy.  It was important for the future stability of Fiji that, through the Observers, the people of Fiji should accept the outcome of the election as a fair reflection of the desire of the majority of the voters.  States of the Pacific subregion were pleased by the broad support for the present resolution, and welcomed the considerable number of co-sponsors.


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium) welcomed the general elections in Fiji at the end of August and the desire of the people of Fiji to return to a constitutional democracy.  The elections were a new beginning for that country.  Democratization required participation of all citizens and respect for democratic values.  In that context, he was convinced that the deployment of a United Nations Observer Mission would help to create a climate of peace.  The United Nations had an important role to play in governments’ efforts to strengthen new and restored democracies, and he supported the draft before the Assembly.


YUKIO SATOH (Japan) commended the Caretaker Government of the Fiji Islands for its decision to hold the general elections at this early stage.  He trusted that the elections would lead to the fulfilment of the Caretaker Government’s mandate to return Fiji to a constitutional democracy.  He strongly welcomed Fiji’s request that the United Nations observe the upcoming elections.  The resolution before the Assembly would respond to that request and give the Secretary-General the mandate to establish a United Nations Electoral Observer Mission, which would be instrumental not only in monitoring the general elections, but also in ensuring the acceptance of the election results by the people.


He informed the Assembly that in line with its support for the text, Japan had decided to provide grant assistance totalling $370,000 to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in support of its technical assistance for the upcoming elections.  Ten Japanese nationals would participate in the United Nations Electoral Observer Mission.


The Assembly was informed that adoption of the draft would not entail additional appropriations for the biennium 2000-2001.  The required resources would be accommodated under section 4, Political Affairs of the programme budget for the biennium 2000—20001


The Assembly President, Harri Holkeri (Finland), told members that Kazakhstan and Monaco had also become co-sponsors of the text.

Action on Draft


The Assembly adopted draft resolution document A/55/L.90 without a vote.


Financing for Development:  Action on Draft


Following consideration of programme budget implications by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) last week, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolution entitled “Preparations for the substantive preparatory process and the International Conference on Financing for Development” (document A/55/L.82) without a vote.


JORGE EDUARDO NAVARRETE (Mexico) expressed his delegation’s pleasure at the consensus adoption of the text.  The resolution concerned the continuation of the substantive preparations for the Conference which would be held in his country.  The summit would provide adequate opportunities to respond to the challenges of global economics through the convergence of all major stakeholders.  


He said the success of the Conference would determine to a large extent compliance with commitments made at the Millennium Summit and Rio.  Fulfilling those commitments meant redoubling efforts to ensure that the preparatory process was carried out in a constructive and productive manner.  In closing, he urged all members of the Organization to reaffirm their commitment to financing for development.


Scale of Assessments, Apportionment of United Nations Expenses


The assembly decided not to discuss the report of the Fifth Committee (document A/55/521/Add.4).


Action on Draft Decision, Fifth Committee


The Assembly, once more acting without a vote, adopted a draft decision allowing Comoros, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Burundi to vote in the Assembly until 30 June 2002.


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